Politics Column for Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013

Edwards attends reunion

State Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, headed to West Point, N.Y., last week for the 25th reunion of his 1988 graduating class of the United States Military Academy.

Edwards, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, served for eight years as an officer in the U.S. Army, rose to the rank of captain and commanded a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division. Edwards is also a member of the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs.

Some 1988 graduates have served long enough to begin entering the ranks of general officers but most are civilians, Edwards said.

“It was wonderful to see how many different ways my (civilian) classmates have continued to find ways to serve. One left a successful career as a corporate executive to earn his certification to teach kindergarten,” Edwards said.

Another friend returned to the Army after working in the civilian world and is now a lieutenant colonel, Edwards said. “I’m proud to have served with people like that.”

The weekend reunion included a parade by the Corp of Cadets honoring the Class of 1988, a football game against Morgan State University and a banquet, Edwards said.

Jindal-themed items for sale on eBay

Ninety-nine pennies — not including shipping and handling — will buy a copy of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s book, “Leadership and Crisis” on eBay. The book is just one of the Jindal-related items up for sale on the online auction site.

Bidders also can vie for playing cards featuring a caricature of the governor and a “rare Bobby Jindal for president 2012” button. A signed copy of the governor’s book was offered Friday for a buy it now price of $75.

For $135.10, Louisiana history lovers can buy a compilation of free Internet articles about the state’s first spouses, including former first gentleman Raymond “Coach” Blanco. Subject to credit approval, buyers were offered the opportunity to split up payments over six months.

Tucker sees ’11 loss as blessing in disguise

Former House Speaker Jim Tucker said Friday that there was a silver lining to losing the secretary of state’s race in 2011.

Tucker, who lives in Terrytown, said the loss gave him more time to spend with his mother, Joan, who died in December from congestive heart failure at age 82. Tucker also focused on his real estate development business.

Tucker said his sister left her hotel job in Boston to care for their mother. When Tucker decided to purchase a hotel in Ponchatoula, his sister was able to step into the role of running it.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said.

Governor’s Mansion to display student art

The artwork of several area schoolchildren will be displayed in the Governor’s Mansion this month.

First lady Supriya Jindal announced that the creations of Baker students Xikeya Seymour and Trelyn Grant, as well as Baton Rouge students Diamond Dixon, Fredricka Anderson and Gonzales fourth grader Natalie Heflin will be featured.

Also sharing in the honor: Malik Gaudet, of Edgard, Cristal Reyes, of Garyville, and Cindy Nguyen and Sandy Nguyen, both of LaPlace.

“The creativity of the young Louisiana artists displayed in the month of September is extraordinary. Many created their intricately designed pieces after studying the techniques of art legends in school. Without a doubt, the artwork is skillfully detailed and will be greatly enjoyed while on display at the Governor’s Mansion,” the first lady said in a prepared statement.

Legislator celebrates mom’s 99th birthday

State Rep. Patricia Smith’s mother is one year away from becoming a centenarian.

Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said Louise Haynes celebrated her 99th birthday in late August at a nursing home, where she is recovering from a broken hip. Haynes normally resides with Smith and is scheduled to come home Monday.

Smith said her mother is very sharp. While visiting her last week, Smith remarked on the fact that her mother was munching on a soft oatmeal cookie. Haynes promptly retorted that she hoped Smith had brought her ice cream to go with the cookie.

Jindal’s first health chief moves to new job

Former state Department of Health and Hospitals chief Alan Levine is moving on to a new job.

Levine will become president and chief executive officer at the Mountain States Health Alliance at the end of 2013. Mountain States with its 13 hospitals, serves 29 counties in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Levine, who was Gov. Bobby Jindal’s first health secretary, left Louisiana in August 2010 for a top executive position at Florida-based Health Management Associates. He had also previously been Florida health secretary.

BR businessman new LSU board chairman

Baton Rouge businessman Bobby Yarborough is the new chairman of the LSU Board of Supervisors. He is chief executive officer of Manda Fine Meats.

Yarborough was sworn in at Friday’s board meeting, taking over from Hank Danos of Larose.

Chairman-elect is Ann Duplessis of New Orleans, a senior vice president of Liberty Bank and Trust and a former state senator.

Revenue secretary to address Press Club

Tim Barfield, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue, will be the speaker for Monday’s noon meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Barfield will discuss the tax amnesty program, which is part of the state budget balancing plan.

The Press Club meets at De La Ronde Hall, 320 Third St. in downtown Baton Rouge. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers. The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and the news media are allowed to ask questions.

Compiled by the Capitol news bureau. Contact email is cnb@theadvocate.com